Oakland A's MLN: Hot 'Hounds

We have lots of news and notes from around the Oakland A's minor league system, including on a trio of hot hitters in Midland, the first pro struggle for Tyler Vail, the debut of Michael Choice, a 2010 draft update and more...

Trio On Hot Streaks For Midland

For the past two seasons, Josh Horton has been plagued by slow finishes in July and August. The A's 2007 second-round pick is looking to buck that trend in 2010. Horton hit .282 with three homeruns in July and he has four hits in 13 at-bats thus far in August.

Horton slugged .331 and .357 for Stockton and Midland in 2008 and 2009, respectively, but he has a .424 slugging percentage in 84 games for the Ports and Rockhounds this year. He has already matched his career-high in homeruns with five. Horton's slugging percentage for his time with Midland is .377.

Since returning from the disabled list for a sprained left hip flexor, Jemile Weeks has been an igniter at the top of the Midland Rockhounds' line-up. In 11 games, Weeks has posted a .421 OBP. He has walked nine times and has collected 15 hits in 47 official at-bats. Weeks has scored eight runs and has driven-in three.

In 37 games for Midland this season, Weeks is batting .309 with an 842 OPS.

Corey Brown has also been helping to carry the Rockhounds' offense. Brown has collected four hits over his last seven at-bats and he had a four-RBI game on Monday. He also hit his eighth homerun of the season for the 'Hounds on Monday. He has driven-in eight runs over his last eight games. Brown has a 924 OPS and a .325 average in 66 games for Midland this season. He has a .412 OBP and has scored 45 runs.

Brown has been particularly impressive on the base-paths. Including his stint with Triple-A Sacramento early in the season, Brown is a perfect 17-17 in stolen base chances this year.

Vail Has First Poor Outing

Oakland A's 2010 fifth-round pick Tyler Vail had made professional baseball look easy until Tuesday night. The 18-year-old right-hander from Pennsylvania had allowed only one run over his first 13.2 innings with the Arizona League A's, giving up only seven hits and six walks. Vail was touched for four runs on seven hits in three innings against the AZL Padres on Tuesday night, raising his ERA to 2.70.

Until A's first-round pick Michael Choice made his professional debut as a DH for the AZL A's on Tuesday night, Vail was the A's highest pick from this year's draft to be playing in minor league games. Choice went 0-2 with a strike-out in his pro debut. He is expected to join short-season Vancouver by the end of this week.

Draft Update

With Choice now in the fold, the A's have signed 29 of their 50 picks in the 2010 draft. Five of those unsigned picks are among the team's top-15 selections, with second-round pick Yordy Cabrera, third-round pick Aaron Shipman, fourth-round pick Chad Lewis and 15th-round pick Scott Woodward still unsigned.

The A's are still hopeful of signing Cabrera, Shipman and Lewis, but A's Director of Scouting Eric Kubota termed the chances of signing Woodward as "not likely." Woodward, a centerfielder from Coastal Carolina, was participating in the Cape Cod League, but he broke his foot in late July. Before the injury, he was having a great season in the Cape and was named to the league's All-Star team.

Other News And Notes

* The A's claimed former top Detroit Tigers prospect Jeff Larish off of waivers on Tuesday and optioned him to Sacramento. Larish has hit 15 homeruns for Triple-A Toledo this season and was 2-for-10 with the Tigers in three big league games. He hit .216 with four homers in 32 games for Detroit last season and has hit at least 15 homeruns in all of his five full professional seasons.

* To make room for Larish on the A's 40-man roster, Oakland designated Adam Heether for assignment. Heether was batting .232 in 48 games for the River Cats. He could still rejoin the team if he clears waivers. Jared Price was sent from Sacramento to Midland.

* Stockton's Michael Spina hit his 21st homerun of the season on Tuesday night. He is currently second in the organization behind Chris Carter in homeruns. He leads the organization in RBIs with 80.

* Omar Duran of the AZL A's is rebounding well after an injury cut short his 2009 season. He tossed three scoreless innings on Tuesday night in relief of Vail and has a 2.30 ERA in 27.1 innings. He has struck-out 35 and has held opposing batters to a .233 average.

* Power has been hard to come by in Kane County this season. The Cougars have managed only 49 longballs in 3,552 at-bats. Max Stassi leads the team with 12. Leonardo Gil has nine and Rashun Dixon has seven. No other Cougars hitter has more than four. The Stockton Ports, led by Spina's 21 and Stephen Parker's 15, have 104 homeruns in 3,712 at-bats.

* Corey Wimberly now holds the Sacramento River Cats' single-season stolen base record with 44. He broke Eric Patterson's record of 43. Wimberly is one of four A's farmhands with 20 or more stolen bases this season, with Tyreace House (29), Conner Crumbliss (21) and Archie Gilbert (21)being the other three.

* Four of the A's six minor league affiliates boast team ERAs under 4.00 right now with Vancouver leading the way at 3.41. The AZL A's have a 3.85 mark, Kane County is at 3.93, Midland is at 3.99, Sacramento has a 4.13 mark and Stockton has a 4.88 team ERA.

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